(Adds detail on GDP, rates)
BOGOTA, April 29 Colombia's central bank on
Monday said the economy likely grew about 2.8 percent in the
first quarter from the same period a year earlier, which would
be within a forecasted range of 2 to 3.5 percent.
During his quarterly presentation in Bogota, Central Bank
Chief Jose Dario Uribe reiterated that the economy would
probably grow about 4.3 percent in full-year 2013, more than the
4 percent growth registered in 2012 but well below the 6.6
percent acceleration in 2011.
The economy grew 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter and 5.3
percent in the first quarter of 2012.
The government will reveal consumer prices for April on
Saturday and the first quarter GDP in June.
Inflation will probably end the year under 3 percent, which
is the bank's mid-point goal of between 2 percent and 4 percent.
Next year Uribe said he expects close to 3 percent.
Annual inflation through the end of March reached 1.91
The low inflation has allowed the policymakers to cut the
benchmark lending rate 200 basis points since July last year in
a bid to encourage consumers and businesses to invest and help
economic growth pick up steam.
Central bank policymakers held borrowing costs steady at
3.25 percent on Friday after back-to-back cuts began to be felt
by consumers and banks.
It typically takes between 12 and 18 months for each cut to
be felt in the economy. Uribe said GDP growth will likely be
faster in the second, third and fourth quarters and possibly
reach 5 percent at some point.
The government earlier this month unveiled a stimulus plan
to accelerate spending on public works, boost factory output and
help the struggling agriculture sector.
Industrial output has declined in nine of the last 12 months
as factories struggle with weak overseas demand and a strong
currency that pits them against cheaper imports and increases
In February, manufacturing dropped 4.5 percent, its sharpest
year-on-year decline since April 2009.
(Reporting by Helen Murphy, Carlos Vargas and Luis Jaime
Acosta; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)